I wonder if that's Phil.
A noticeably fitter, and yes, if we're going to abandon "the code", thinner AI actually won a match. And not only did she win it, she won it fairly easily without collapsing. This was, to say the least, surprising. As anyone who has had to Livescore Ana's matches over the past year knows, she's a wee bit prone to building a lead only to let it, and the match, slip away.
And Ana's not as delusional as she's sometimes accused of being. She's well-aware of her propensity to implode:
"I've been working still very hard and trying to get back and it seemed the harder I tried the further it was getting away from me. So just try to relax and try to be in the moment and not think too much about the result because also during my matches I almost like I'd find myself leading and then losing in the end. Just sort of, once I start to relax and I thought I'm playing well and I thought "Oh my God," you know, "I can win and maybe I can get far" but then the train of thought just goes and before I know it I'm off the court and lost."
Which is why when the crowd started to shuffle out when Ana was up a break in the second, @sblily said, "Where is everyone going? They know this is an Ana match, right?" Word up, homie.
But she served fairly well in streaks and was able to weather the early storm, when Kleybs looked like she couldn't miss. This match was error-strewn, no doubt. But there were moments of brilliant, heavy hitting by both ladies.
In the end, the star of the show was Ana's rediscovered fitness and agility. I distinctly remember a point early in the first set wherein Kleybs was yanking Ana all over the court, and Ana got back five or six balls that very easily could have been winners. Kleybs eventually won the point, but she literally had to hit six winners to do so. The momentum shifted a bit on that point, as Kleybs found herself going for too much and, more often than not, missing. To put it simply, Ana totally JJ'd Kleybs. I can honestly say that I haven't seen her move that well since RG08.
"I think the biggest difference was in my fitness. Because I really felt that I was getting to every ball and I managed to maintain the rallies and I didn't have to pull the trigger too early and that kind of put me at ease in the tough rallies and I managed to stay strong."
"I think there were a lot of ups and downs with my fitness. And I have a new fitness coach after, since Wimbledon, and I've been working a lot on fast footwork drills and that reflects a lot in my game. That's something that I've been lacking and just being strong off both sides, in the corners, which I was lacking a little bit at Wimbledon. So I think that plays a big part in my game and also confidence-wise.
After her presser, Ana stopped by Matt Cronin's desk and had a quick chat. She says her team is joking about how fit she's getting, busting out of her sleeves, if you will. Ana the Hulk? Just leave the purple shorts at home, please.
So a solid win for Ana with a little help from Kleybs. It's all fine and dandy but the kid's gotta back it up. She'll play the winner of Mono/Harkleroad. *snort*.
Some clips of the match after the jump.